Announcements / Opportunities / Science

Playing it Safe on Lakes this Labor Day

According to the Fairbanks Museum’s Eye on the Sky, the weather will be glorious this Labor Day weekend. We hope many Vermonters plan to spend time on or in water, and we want to be sure everyone does so safely.

Most of Vermont’s lakes are public waters, open to all citizens for recreational uses ranging from swimming to fishing. Smaller lakes are off limits to jet skis and float planes, and in some cases additional rules apply. For a list of lake-specific rules, see the Vermont Use of Public Waters Rules or contact the Lakes & Ponds Program (

One frequently asked question is how fast a motorboat may go when passing swimmers or paddlers. According to Vermont’s Motor Vehicle statutes (Chapter 29, § 3311), vessels traveling within 200 feet of “a person in the water, a canoe, rowboat or other vessel” must slow to no-wake speed, defined as less than five miles per hour.

We encourage all boaters to take the Vermont boating safety education course offered for free by (you are only charged a fee if you need to print a certificate documenting successful completion).

Finally, if you’re heading out in a boat this weekend, why not consider wearing your life jacket, rather than just carrying it along beside you? If you’re under 12 years of age, then you’re required to wear one. Adults can serve as role models by wearing theirs.